After your bariatric surgery you will be introduced to a new way of eating. It’s particularly important to follow your doctor’s guidance to avoid potentially serious complications as your body is healing. The level at which you follow your diet can also impact your long-term success, for better or for worse.
Let’s take a look at the different stages of your post-bariatric surgery diet. The time periods that follow are only estimates, as your doctor will tailor an approach to best suit your needs.
The First Two Weeks After Surgery: Liquid Diet
One of the most important things you need to be mindful of is to not stretch your new, smaller stomach, as it is in the process of healing. You will be instructed to begin with a liquid diet, which gives your stomach the opportunity to heal properly.
Remember, you have less space in your stomach to work with, so you need to make the most of what you are ingesting. That means concentrating on liquids that have calories. You will already be restricting your calories a lot, so be sure to get the nutrition you need.
You will start with clear liquids. In addition to water, you will likely be having clear broths (chicken, beef, or vegetable), skim milk, or fruit juice. Liquid snacks may include sugar-free popsicles and gelatin (Jell-O).
Before you move on to solid foods, you will begin a “full” liquid diet. In addition to the aforementioned clear liquids, you can introduce liquids with a little more body to them, such as yogurt, cream of rice, cream of wheat and thin grits cooked with ample amounts of water or milk to make sure it’s liquified enough.
3 to 4 Weeks After Surgery: Pureed Foods
As you can see, your foods are very gradually moving up in thickness. Now you are eating “regular” foods, but they are pureed to aid in the digestion process. These are foods that will have the consistency of baby food. Yes, in a metaphorical way, it’s a bit like you are starting all over again with your eating habits.
Foods that you may consider pureeing include skinless chicken or fish, mashed potatoes, peas, or fruit smoothies. You want to stick to lean meats and remove any fat before pureeing. Remember, you can also include items from the previous stages to mix things up. However, it’s important that you are focusing on the protein sources to maintain muscle mass as you lose weight and aid in the recovery process.
During the various liquid stages and moving forward, be sure to drink fluids in small sips to avoid discomfort and prevent your stomach from stretching.
5 Weeks After Surgery: Soft Foods
Once you reach the solid food stage, you are discouraged from getting your calories through liquids. When your body is ready for solid foods, you need to save room for foods that offer fiber.
Once soft foods are introduced, it is important to practice thorough chewing so foods can be properly digested. You will need to be more mindful of this now, since your digestive system needs extra help. Soft foods should be moist and can include fish and ground meats (baked, broiled, or steamed).
This is just a general idea of how you will be eased into eating after your surgery. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Samuel Bledsoe to discuss your particular needs and/or concerns.